How to Nurture Workplace Relationships Now and in the WFH Future

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GoToEmpowering remote work and securing business continuity.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Until very recently, few organizations had fully remote teams, and being able to work from home each day seemed like a far-off dream for a lot of professionals. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working has become vital for businesses to maintain operations and keep their teams safe. This has made way for the new Work From Home (WFH) culture, and this style of working is something we expect to see continuing even once the virus is back under control.

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One of the key challenges with working from home is losing face-to-face interactions with clients and, more importantly, with colleagues. Of course, virtual meetings and communication tools such as Slack, Trello and Zoom have helped teams to stay in touch, but employees are having to adapt and evolve their relationships with their co-workers as a result of this shift to a remote workforce.

This is because workplace friendships, team meetings and face-to-face interactions are critical to the happiness and productivity of many workers. And although every co-worker relationship will be different, encouraging workplace interaction is going to be crucial not only for the wellbeing of employees but for the success of the business.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of four key ways you can nurture workplace relationships now and in the WFH future.

Network outside of virtual meetings

Networking outside of your scheduled conference calls is so important. This doesn't always have to mean meeting face-to-face, which could be an issue for some, but instead communicating on social tools and platforms outside of work. For example, try starting a team WhatsApp group or following your colleagues on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. This can help you get to know more about each other and form a better relationship outside of your weekly conference calls.

What’s more, if you live within a reasonable distance of one another, you could also take the time to meet face-to-face if restrictions allow it, even if just once a month to help strengthen your bond. Team lunches or Friday night drinks could be the perfect way to incorporate this and encourage socializing amongst co-workers.

Don’t neglect the casual check-ins

When you're working from home it can feel like each time you reach out to a colleague via email, phone call or virtual meeting, it has to be for a work-related reason. But you shouldn't neglect casual check-ins and making time for chit chat. Did you always stop by your co-worker’s desk for a quick chat and to ask how their weekend was when you were in the office? If so, don’t let this stop just because you're no longer working in the same room.

At the beginning of a call or meeting, take five minutes to see how everyone is doing and what they’ve been up to in their free time. You could also use communication tools to drop your closest co-workers a message every now and then. This way you can stay in touch and check in with them to see how they're finding the WFH life.

Get involved with team-building activities

Lots of organizations have realized that employee relationships are important and they need to do all they can to help support these. As such, many are offering virtual team building activities. If your employer is doing their best to organize this type of event, it’s worth getting involved. These might be online quizzes, live training or work sessions, virtual happy hours or coffee breaks. Either way, it’s a nice idea to take some time out to socialize with your co-workers and to participate in these team-building exercises, especially if you're new to the business.

Respect that your colleagues could be from different time-zones and cultures

Finally, remote working means that your colleagues don't even have to be in the same country as you anymore and it has paved the way for a very diverse workforce. But this can put a strain on employee relationships even further, so to combat this you should get clued up on their different time zones and/or cultures so you know how best to approach and work with them.

This means being aware of their customs, schedules, any national holidays and whether they're going to be joining you on a meeting really early or late in their time zone. Because let’s face it, if they’ve got up at 5:00 am to join a Zoom call, the last thing they need is your already-caffeinated self being overly enthusiastic. By practicing virtual etiquette in this way, you can form better relationships with your colleagues no matter who or where they are.

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